File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Understanding the Intricacies of China-Bhutan Relations from Indian Perspective

The geographical location of Bhutan with an area of ​​38,394 sq km lies between India and China, with China lying to its north and the north-eastern part of India to the south of Bhutan. For Bhutan, although a small country, security has been a key aspect of the role in determining its foreign policy.

China and Bhutan share approximately 477 kilometres of border, with a contentious history rooted in events dating back to 1950. The boundary dispute originated when China, after occupying Tibet, refused to acknowledge the delineation between Tibet and Bhutan. In a retaliatory response to the Tibetan uprising in 1959, Beijing took control of eight Bhutanese enclaves in Tibet.

Formal boundary talks between Bhutan and China commenced in 1984, centring on three primarily disputed areas: the Jakarlung and Pasamlung regions in north Bhutan and the strategically significant Doklam area in the west, marking the focal points of contention in the ongoing negotiations.

Bhutan's Foreign Minister's visit to China:
The visit of Bhutan's Foreign Minister, Tandi Dorji, to China in October 2023 raised significant concerns for India due to its unprecedented nature. Notably, Bhutan and China lack diplomatic relations, and this marked the first-ever visit by a Bhutanese Foreign Minister to China. The primary focus of the visit was the resumption of boundary talks, which had been dormant for over seven years.

The signing of a cooperation agreement, as outlined in a joint statement, emphasizes the establishment of a new joint technical team to oversee the delimitation and demarcation of the boundary, further adding complexity to the geopolitical dynamics in the region.

India's Concern:
India, which shares 605 km of border with Bhutan, owing to its special relationship with Bhutan, is apprehensive about the potential establishment of diplomatic relations and the signing of a boundary agreement between Bhutan and China.

The primary concern lies in the perceived threat of swapping Doklam, a region situated near the tri-junction between India, Bhutan, and China, as part of a deal. Doklam is of paramount security importance for India, as China's control over this area could jeopardize the Siliguri Corridor, a critical 22-kilometer stretch linking the Indian mainland to the Northeast.

Commonly referred to as Chicken's Neck, the corridor serves as a vital connection between India, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. A scenario where China gains control of Doklam raises the risk of increased pressure on India, with Chinese forces potentially disrupting India's connection to the eastern part of their disputed border.

Tensions persist between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), with no resolution achieved despite multiple rounds of deliberations following the 2020 military clashes in Ladakh's Galwan Valley. Disengagement of troops at key friction points like Depsang and Demchok remains elusive. In late August, 2023, Beijing's release of a "standard map" incorporating Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh within China's borders provoked India, which promptly rejected these territorial claims.

The 2017 Doklam stand off further complicates relations, where Indian and Chinese troops clashed for two months over China's construction of a road towards the strategically significant Jampheri ridge line. While India considers Doklam as undisputed territory of Bhutan, Beijing regards it as an extension of its Chumbi Valley.

Recent moves by China, such as claiming the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern Bhutan and allegedly constructing villages within Bhutanese territory, are seen by India as pressure tactics aimed at influencing Bhutan to cede control of Doklam.

Improvement of Infrastructure along Border:
As part of its comprehensive strategy to enhance border security and infrastructure, the Border Management Division has undertaken various initiatives along India's borders with neighbouring countries. These initiatives encompass the construction of fences, floodlighting, roads, Border Outposts (BOPs), Company Operating Bases (COBs), and the deployment of technological solutions across borders with Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar. Noteworthy development projects, like the Trans-Arunachal Highway, are crucial for mounting an effective and rapid response against potential aggression from China.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has successfully completed over 100 projects in border areas, with a focus on regions near the border with China. Special attention is given to the Nimu-Padam-Darcha axis to facilitate the movement of troops to Ladakh from various parts of the country. While these measures require time for implementation, India remains prepared to counter potential aggression along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) through an approach of 'Armed Coexistence.'

The deployment of troops and surveillance mechanisms forms a critical aspect of India's border defence strategy. The Indian Army and the Border Security Force (BSF) operate in multiple layers, creating an anti-infiltration grid. The use of border fences and other surveillance devices has proven effective in reducing infiltrations.

Along the borders with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Myanmar, paramilitary forces play a crucial role in guarding against various threats, including smuggling, human trafficking, arms trade, illegal migration, and movement of suspected insurgents. Managing porous borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar, as well as open borders with Nepal, presents unique challenges in combating these illicit activities, emphasizing the need for continued vigilance and strategic border management.

Economic Relations between China and Bhutan:
n the month of November 2023, China sent out goods worth $5.85 million to Bhutan and received imports valued at $383. As a result, China had a trade surplus of $5.85 million. Comparing the period from November 2022 to November 2023, China's exports witnessed a significant decline of $20.8 million, marking a decrease of 78% from $26.6 million to $5.85 million. Similarly, imports also experienced a reduction of $1.76 thousand, indicating an 82.2% decrease from $2.15 thousand to $383.

In the month of November in the year 2023, China had some noteworthy goods being exported to Bhutan. These goods included Computers with a value of $2.6 million, Telephones with a value of $817k, Low-voltage Protection Equipment with a value of $430k, Aluminium Structures worth $197k, and Insulated Wire amounting to $136k. On the other hand, during the same period, China brought in significant imports from Bhutan. These imports mainly consisted of Ferroalloys worth a substantial $2.82 million and Commodities not elsewhere specified which had a value of $85.

Border Dispute with China:
China currently faces unresolved land border disputes with only two countries - India and Bhutan. The heightened urgency displayed by China in engaging in border talks with Bhutan should not be viewed in isolation. The resolution of the Doklam dispute is intricately linked to the broader conflict on the shared border between China and India, with specific implications for the status of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as an extension of South Tibet.

A comprehensive border agreement that addresses Bhutanese concerns in the north while safeguarding India's strategic interests in the west is imperative, emphasizing the need for diplomatic efforts to navigate this complex geopolitical scenario.

Resolving the border issue with Bhutan is considered important by China because it could affect India's security in the eastern Himalayas. While some may think that traditional warfare between China and India is unlikely in today's world, where warfare has changed, there's still uncertainty about the future. Looking at Bhutan's location on the map, it's clear that if China wanted to invade India, having a resolution with Bhutan could potentially provide China with access to India's territory through the eastern Himalayas.

Territorial disputes, specifically in the Doklam area, are a major issue in the relationship between China and Bhutan with implications for Indian security concerns. These disputes stem from overlapping territorial claims, which have led to occasional tensions and border standoffs. The strategic location of Bhutan and its historical ties with India further complicate the matter, as China's growing influence in the region raises concerns for both Bhutan and India.

Another significant factor in the relationship is the economic aspect, as China has shown interest in Bhutan's hydropower potential. While economic collaboration could bring mutual benefits, it also presents challenges for Bhutan in balancing economic development with environmental and sovereignty concerns.

Moreover, the diplomatic balancing act between Bhutan, China, and India is a delicate matter. Bhutan, traditionally aligned with India, faces the challenge of maintaining its sovereignty while simultaneously engaging with its powerful neighbours. The geopolitical dynamics in the region also add to the complexities of China-Bhutan relations, with implications for the broader strategic landscape of South Asia.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly